Organized Time

How some highly successful Hoos manage their time

“Never put off tomorrow what you can do today,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. UVA professor of politics Larry Sabato lives by this advice and it shows; he’s written two dozen books, directs UVA’s Center for Politics and still has time to maintain a popular Twitter feed. Virginia Magazine asked Sabato and 10 other go-getters how they budget their time. (Living up to his own standards, Sabato turned his answers in on the first day.) Here are their answers.

View by:

What tools do you use to manage your time?

I use iCal and Google Calendar to keep my schedule organized. Google Calendar is nice because it is compatible with iCal (which I use on my computer) and it can sync with multiple calendars. I put almost everything on my calendar; otherwise I’ll forget. The geometry also helps me visualize how much time I have in my day.

Russell Bogue
Rhodes Scholar

I have a highly organized staff person who focuses on my calendar.

Teresa A. Sullivan
University President

I use a planner, not just a little tiny planner, but a large one. It goes everywhere with me and I try to write everything down. My days are so hectic that I have to write it all down so the priority items are not forgotten.

Courtney Bartholomew
Swimmer

I manage my time in a nearly completely bifurcated way. All of my work scheduling is on my Outlook calendar, which I am usually looking at on my BlackBerry (I know! A BlackBerry! It's almost quaint.) Then at home I use a gigantic wall calendar for family stuff, so my kids' activities are basically staring me in the face a couple of times a day. Of course, to add to the inefficiency, my husband uses Google Calendar for his stuff and family stuff, so half the time I have to ask him what's on the Google Calendar so I can write it down on the paper wall calendar. (And because I am too lazy to look at what's on Google myself.)

Kristin van Ogtrop
Editor, Real Simple

I use a combination of my phone (with iCalendar and Google Calendar connected to my laptop) and a Moleskine planner. I mainly use the Moleskine for having all of my syllabus information in one place and then my electronic calendar for any meetings or extra things that may pop up. I am slowly making my way to just electronics, but I really enjoy the feeling of being able to cross assignments off my to-do list.

Jasmine Lee
Student

Mobile device, plus notes left on the floor in front of my door so I have to trip over them to leave. Great backup.

Larry Sabato
Political Scientist

I’m old-school and still primarily use a daily planner. Very light mobile device use at this point with some obligations loaded automatically into my Outlook calendar.

John M. MacKnight
Director of UVA Sports Medicine

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve been using the same planning system since 1995! I still order paper planners from Franklin Planner (formerly Franklin Covey). I’ve modified their system to work for me, but the three things I always do are 1) Make a weekly to-do list; 2) Prioritize a small number of daily tasks from that list (see my tip below); 3) Keep a running “to deal with later” list, where I park ideas that didn’t make the priority list so they’re out of my head. I also swear by a few online tools/apps to keep me and my time organized: Asana (collaboration/project management), Google Calendar and Evernote.

Lara Dalch
Life Coach

I’m always on the move so I rely heavily on my mobile device to keep me up to date.

Leora T. Yarboro
Surgeon

I typically keep track of my obligations in a planner, but I also email myself reminders about upcoming deadlines.

Dani Bernstein
Editor, The Cavalier Daily

My most powerful device is Delores [Roberts, executive assistant to the provost], and I am fortunate to have her. She helps me with the calendar and is very good at striking a balance between trying to make me as available as I can be while still having time to get things done. But I use an iPhone as well. My backup mobile device is a skateboard; if I’m ever really late to a meeting, I can pull that down [off the shelf in my office] and go, but I haven’t actually gotten to that point yet. That’s still coming.

Tom Katsouleas
Executive Vice President and Provost

What’s your secret time-management tip?

When you do something, do it fully. If you’re reading, turn off your phone or put it face-down. Don’t go online. I’m always surprised how much quicker I finish my work when I’m fully devoted to the task at hand.

Russell Bogue
Rhodes Scholar

I make a daily list of priorities.

Teresa A. Sullivan
University President

Get the priority things done first and in a timely matter. Then, do the next things on the list when you find time during the day for them.

Courtney Bartholomew
Swimmer

Don't watch TV. It's amazing how much "free" time you will find if you don't watch TV. I also am not a big fan of multi-tasking. And if I could eliminate social media (actually, even just Instagram) from my life, I swear I would add two hours to every day. It is such a gigantic distraction.

Kristin van Ogtrop
Editor, Real Simple

I am a big believer in planning ahead of time. I like to write out all of my syllabi into my planner at the beginning of the semester. That way I can see early if I am going to have a week with a lot of assignments due and be able to plan accordingly. It also helps me to get an idea of the workload for each class in relation to the others. I also have my planner color coordinated so each class has its own color for the semester. It makes it easy to identify what work is for what class.

Jasmine Lee
Student

Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today. Tomorrow will almost always be busier than you expect.

Larry Sabato
Political Scientist

Strict allocation of time to specific tasks at specific times of the day. Don’t deal with email during your clinic day. Batch all of your patient calls together at the end of the day. Focus on efficient documentation around the time of each patient encounter. Avoid mixing these tasks together as it makes each of them more time-consuming.

John M. MacKnight
Director of UVA Sports Medicine

I call it “three things a day.” Each day, I scan my weekly list of tasks and choose three things to focus on for the day. That’s it—only three. It sounds scary—especially if you feel like you have a million things to do—but it forces you to prioritize. I end up getting much more done that way, and I get the important stuff done first.

Lara Dalch
Life Coach

Prioritize. My days can be unpredictable so I always tackle the most time-sensitive tasks first.

Leora T. Yarboro
Surgeon

I can’t pretend I’ve found a good way to manage my time yet. Mostly, I just forgo sleep, which probably isn't the best solution.

Dani Bernstein
Editor, The Cavalier Daily

It’s not a secret really, but I have 30-plus direct reports, so there are a lot of meetings. What works well for me is to schedule those meetings for half an hour, and then have a gap of a half-hour between. That gives me the flexibility to, every hour during the day, check some email. Or if a meeting runs over, if there’s just more to talk about than we can cover, we have the buffer to be able to expand if we need to. Or if something urgent comes up and someone needs to see me, there’s that gap.

Answering email is a lot about triage; it’s those things I can answer quickly and then those things that I refer out to the appropriate team member. I keep a little list of those that require longer personal time, like, say, a personal letter of recommendation or something like that. The other piece of it is that there’s so much under my purview and I’m fortunate to have a lot of horsepower under the hood [on my team].

Tom Katsouleas
Executive Vice President and Provost

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

Social media takes up way too much of my time. I waste a lot of time in the morning after I wake up checking my phone. Sometimes I don’t leave bed for 45 minutes after waking up, just delaying the inevitable task of leaving my covers and getting started with my day. Now I have to account for that when I set my alarm. I could get more sleep if I didn't waste time on social media.

Russell Bogue
Rhodes Scholar

Compliance issues.

Teresa A. Sullivan
University President

I use Facebook a lot, more than anyone should be willing to admit. It was one of my New Year’s resolutions to use Facebook less.

Courtney Bartholomew
Swimmer

Well, I guess I just answered this one. Three things: social media, social media and social media. Or, more specifically: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Kristin van Ogtrop
Editor, Real Simple

I can get pretty distracted when I’m using my computer. I love listening to music while I work but sometimes get too caught up in a playlist. I also love YouTube, but I try to work around that by saving a lot of the videos/channels I watch for when I’m at the gym.

Jasmine Lee
Student

Twitter. It’s a champion time-waster in the digital era.

Larry Sabato
Political Scientist

Email, patient documentation, and MyChart communications.

John M. MacKnight
Director of UVA Sports Medicine

Social media! When you’re marketing a business, social media can be a great way to reach potential customers; but it is such a time drain sometimes.

Lara Dalch
Life Coach

Paperwork.

Leora T. Yarboro
Surgeon

Spending time on social media definitely takes up more of my time than I’d like it to.

Dani Bernstein
Editor, The Cavalier Daily

I have a weakness for reality TV. One show I’ve liked recently is House Hunters International, because you get to see the rest of the world, not just for its sights but for how people live and what their lifestyle is by looking into their homes. I like watching it with a TiVo, so that you can just skip to the chase. Reality TV with fast-forward is a pretty good thing.

Tom Katsouleas
Executive Vice President and Provost

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

I would read for fun. At the height of my work during my third year, I began to lose sight of why I loved to read because I was reading so much for my classes. It scared me a little, because reading has been a constant in my life for as long as I could string together letters to make words. Reading for pleasure is important to maintain, even during busy weeks.

Russell Bogue
Rhodes Scholar

Reading.

Teresa A. Sullivan
University President

I would call or Skype with my family back in Michigan; I’d like to talk to them more.

Courtney Bartholomew
Swimmer

If I had an extra hour I would probably use it to sleep, which is a super boring answer. I’d like to say that I’d work on some big project or learn to knit or finally do my kids’ baby books, but the honest answer is that I’d probably sleep. Which would be fantastic.

Kristin van Ogtrop
Editor, Real Simple

I would probably try to use that hour for myself. Either journaling, reading for pleasure, or hanging out with friends. I would want to do something that I just enjoy and would be relaxing.

Jasmine Lee
Student

Thinking and writing—with all electronic devices in the off position.

Larry Sabato
Political Scientist

30 minutes of sleep and 30 minutes of exercise.

John M. MacKnight
Director of UVA Sports Medicine

Sharing a good meal with friends. I don’t do that nearly as often as I’d like.

Lara Dalch
Life Coach

Between work and family, my time is spoken for. I would use that extra hour to get outside and exercise.

Leora T. Yarboro
Surgeon

If there were an extra hour in every day, I’d probably sleep an extra hour.

Dani Bernstein
Editor, The Cavalier Daily

I would use one of the hours for another hour of snowboarding or waterskiing (depending on the season), one to read something purely for fun, one to visit someplace new, one to teach (I plan to co-teach Electrical Engineering in the fall), one to do a longer swim workout and one to go out dancing.

Tom Katsouleas
Executive Vice President and Provost

Russell Bogue
Rhodes Scholar

What tools do you use to manage your time?

I use iCal and Google Calendar to keep my schedule organized. Google Calendar is nice because it is compatible with iCal (which I use on my computer) and it can sync with multiple calendars. I put almost everything on my calendar; otherwise I’ll forget. The geometry also helps me visualize how much time I have in my day.

What’s your secret time-management tip?

When you do something, do it fully. If you’re reading, turn off your phone or put it face-down. Don’t go online. I’m always surprised how much quicker I finish my work when I’m fully devoted to the task at hand.

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

Social media takes up way too much of my time. I waste a lot of time in the morning after I wake up checking my phone. Sometimes I don’t leave bed for 45 minutes after waking up, just delaying the inevitable task of leaving my covers and getting started with my day. Now I have to account for that when I set my alarm. I could get more sleep if I didn't waste time on social media.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

I would read for fun. At the height of my work during my third year, I began to lose sight of why I loved to read because I was reading so much for my classes. It scared me a little, because reading has been a constant in my life for as long as I could string together letters to make words. Reading for pleasure is important to maintain, even during busy weeks.

Russell Bogue (Col ’16) is a fourth-year honors politics and Mandarin Chinese language student who is involved in many groups, clubs and publications on Grounds. He’ll head to Oxford in the fall.

Tom Katsouleas
Executive Vice President and Provost

What tools do you use to manage your time?

My most powerful device is Delores [Roberts, executive assistant to the provost], and I am fortunate to have her. She helps me with the calendar and is very good at striking a balance between trying to make me as available as I can be while still having time to get things done. But I use an iPhone as well. My backup mobile device is a skateboard; if I’m ever really late to a meeting, I can pull that down [off the shelf in my office] and go, but I haven’t actually gotten to that point yet. That’s still coming.

What’s your secret time-management tip?

It’s not a secret really, but I have 30-plus direct reports, so there are a lot of meetings. What works well for me is to schedule those meetings for half an hour, and then have a gap of a half-hour between. That gives me the flexibility to, every hour during the day, check some email. Or if a meeting runs over, if there’s just more to talk about than we can cover, we have the buffer to be able to expand if we need to. Or if something urgent comes up and someone needs to see me, there’s that gap.

Answering email is a lot about triage; it’s those things I can answer quickly and then those things that I refer out to the appropriate team member. I keep a little list of those that require longer personal time, like, say, a personal letter of recommendation or something like that. The other piece of it is that there’s so much under my purview and I’m fortunate to have a lot of horsepower under the hood [on my team].

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

I have a weakness for reality TV. One show I’ve liked recently is House Hunters International, because you get to see the rest of the world, not just for its sights but for how people live and what their lifestyle is by looking into their homes. I like watching it with a TiVo, so that you can just skip to the chase. Reality TV with fast-forward is a pretty good thing.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

I would use one of the hours for another hour of snowboarding or waterskiing (depending on the season), one to read something purely for fun, one to visit someplace new, one to teach (I plan to co-teach Electrical Engineering in the fall), one to do a longer swim workout and one to go out dancing.

Tom Katsouleas oversees UVA’s 11 schools, the library system, art museum and residential colleges as well as many University academic centers, programs and initiatives.

John M. MacKnight
Director of UVA Sports Medicine

What tools do you use to manage your time?

I’m old-school and still primarily use a daily planner. Very light mobile device use at this point with some obligations loaded automatically into my Outlook calendar.

What’s your secret time-management tip?

Strict allocation of time to specific tasks at specific times of the day. Don’t deal with email during your clinic day. Batch all of your patient calls together at the end of the day. Focus on efficient documentation around the time of each patient encounter. Avoid mixing these tasks together as it makes each of them more time-consuming.

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

Email, patient documentation, and MyChart communications.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

30 minutes of sleep and 30 minutes of exercise.

John M. MacKnight is a professor, internal medicine & orthopaedic surgery team physician and medical director of UVA Sports Medicine in the University of Virginia Health System.

Courtney Bartholomew
Swimmer

What tools do you use to manage your time?

I use a planner, not just a little tiny planner, but a large one. It goes everywhere with me and I try to write everything down. My days are so hectic that I have to write it all down so the priority items are not forgotten.

What’s your secret time-management tip?

Get the priority things done first and in a timely matter. Then, do the next things on the list when you find time during the day for them.

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

I use Facebook a lot, more than anyone should be willing to admit. It was one of my New Year’s resolutions to use Facebook less.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

I would probably try and get some more work done, because our schedules don’t always allow for that little bit of extra time I’d like to put into some assignments. I would also call or Skype with my family back in Michigan; I’d like to talk to them more.

Courtney Bartholomew (Col ’16) is a fourth-year foreign affairs and media studies major. She recently set the American women’s short-course record in the 100 meter backstroke and was part of the world-record breaking 4x100m medley relay team.

Kristin van Ogtrop
Editor

What tools do you use to manage your time?

I manage my time in a nearly completely bifurcated way. All of my work scheduling is on my Outlook calendar, which I am usually looking at on my BlackBerry (I know! A BlackBerry! It's almost quaint.) Then at home I use a gigantic wall calendar for family stuff, so my kids' activities are basically staring me in the face a couple of times a day. Of course, to add to the inefficiency, my husband uses Google Calendar for his stuff and family stuff, so half the time I have to ask him what's on the Google Calendar so I can write it down on the paper wall calendar. (And because I am too lazy to look at what's on Google myself.)

What’s your secret time-management tip?

Don't watch TV. It's amazing how much "free" time you will find if you don't watch TV. I also am not a big fan of multi-tasking. And if I could eliminate social media (actually, even just Instagram) from my life, I swear I would add two hours to every day. It is such a gigantic distraction.

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

Well, I guess I just answered this one. Three things: social media, social media and social media. Or, more specifically: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

If I had an extra hour I would probably use it to sleep, which is a super boring answer. I’d like to say that I’d work on some big project or learn to knit or finally do my kids’ baby books, but the honest answer is that I’d probably sleep. Which would be fantastic.

Kristin van Ogtrop (Col ’86) is the editor of Real Simple and the author of Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom.

Jasmine Lee
Student

What tools do you use to manage your time?

I use a combination of my phone (with iCalendar and Google Calendar connected to my laptop) and a Moleskine planner. I mainly use the Moleskine for having all of my syllabus information in one place and then my electronic calendar for any meetings or extra things that may pop up. I am slowly making my way to just electronics, but I really enjoy the feeling of being able to cross assignments off my to-do list.

What’s your secret time-management tip?

I am a big believer in planning ahead of time. I like to write out all of my syllabi into my planner at the beginning of the semester. That way I can see early if I am going to have a week with a lot of assignments due and be able to plan accordingly. It also helps me to get an idea of the workload for each class in relation to the others. I also have my planner color coordinated so each class has its own color for the semester. It makes it easy to identify what work is for what class.

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

I can get pretty distracted when I’m using my computer. I love listening to music while I work but sometimes get too caught up in a playlist. I also love YouTube, but I try to work around that by saving a lot of the videos/channels I watch for when I’m at the gym.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

I would probably try to use that hour for myself. Either journaling, reading for pleasure, or hanging out with friends. I would want to do something that I just enjoy and would be relaxing.

Jasmine Lee (Col ’16) is double majoring in American Studies and Foreign Affairs, is involved in Student Council and served as a UVA Orientation Leader.

Larry Sabato
Political Scientist

What tools do you use to manage your time?

Mobile device, plus notes left on the floor in front of my door so I have to trip over them to leave. Great backup.

What’s your secret time-management tip?

Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today. Tomorrow will almost always be busier than you expect.

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

Twitter. It’s a champion time-waster in the digital era.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

Thinking and writing—with all electronic devices in the off position.

Larry Sabato (Col ’74) is the director of UVA’s Center for Politics. His latest book is The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy.

Teresa A. Sullivan
University President

What tools do you use to manage your time?

I have a highly organized staff person who focuses on my calendar.

What’s your secret time-management tip?

I make a daily list of priorities.

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

Compliance issues.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

Reading.

Teresa Sullivan has been the president of the University of Virginia since 2010. She is the eighth person to hold the office.

Lara Dalch
Life Coach

What tools do you use to manage your time?

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve been using the same planning system since 1995! I still order paper planners from Franklin Planner (formerly Franklin Covey). I’ve modified their system to work for me, but the three things I always do are 1) Make a weekly to-do list; 2) Prioritize a small number of daily tasks from that list (see my tip below); 3) Keep a running “to deal with later” list, where I park ideas that didn’t make the priority list so they’re out of my head. I also swear by a few online tools/apps to keep me and my time organized: Asana (collaboration/project management), Google Calendar and Evernote.

What’s your secret time-management tip?

I call it “three things a day.” Each day, I scan my weekly list of tasks and choose three things to focus on for the day. That’s it—only three. It sounds scary—especially if you feel like you have a million things to do—but it forces you to prioritize. I end up getting much more done that way, and I get the important stuff done first.

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

Social media! When you’re marketing a business, social media can be a great way to reach potential customers; but it is such a time drain sometimes.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

Sharing a good meal with friends. I don’t do that nearly as often as I’d like.

Lara Dalch (Col ’94) is a health and lifestyle coach.

Leora T. Yarboro
Surgeon

What tools do you use to manage your time?

I’m always on the move so I rely heavily on my mobile device to keep me up to date.

What’s your secret time-management tip?

Prioritize. My days can be unpredictable so I always tackle the most time-sensitive tasks first.

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

Paperwork.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

Between work and family, my time is spoken for. I would use that extra hour to get outside and exercise.

Leora T. Yarboro is a cardiothoracic surgeon and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Virginia Health System.

Dani Bernstein
Editor

What tools do you use to manage your time?

I typically keep track of my obligations in a planner, but I also email myself reminders about upcoming deadlines.

What’s your secret time-management tip?

I can’t pretend I’ve found a good way to manage my time yet. Mostly, I just forgo sleep, which probably isn't the best solution.

What takes up more of your time than you’d like to admit?

Spending time on social media definitely takes up more of my time than I’d like it to.

If there were an extra hour in every day, how would you use it?

If there were an extra hour in every day, I’d probably sleep an extra hour.

Dani Bernstein (Col ’17) is a third-year student majoring in history and is the editor-in-chief of The Cavalier Daily.